A redwood tree fell at Willard Park after a windstorm occurred overnight Saturday, sparking debate over what the wood will be used for.
According to local artist Diana Soline, the lack of roots securing the tree to the ground was a major factor in the fall of the redwood, in addition to the high winds overnight. She added some roots had previously been removed in order to build a sidewalk.
“There were high winds, but if you look at the tree, you can see there was only one root in that direction,” Soline said. “It wasn’t secure.”
Soline said the city is currently planning on using the fallen tree to make wood chips. However, community members want the tree to be put to other use.
They were able to successfully prevent further branches from being put through wood chipping machines, which the city deployed Wednesday, according to Soline. Instead, Soline said she hopes the wood can be used by local artists, Native people and community parks.
“We really want the city to leave this tree here as a memory and for reasons of emotional nostalgia,” Soline said. “It should be given to artists (and) Ohlone people.”
According to Soline, the city is planning on cutting down additional trees that may pose a danger to the community. However, Soline said community members are concerned about the population of the redwood trees and the microbiome that relies on them if they get cut down.
Soline added the city should have public discussion or consult local residents and community groups regarding the future use of fallen trees and the greater environmental community in the city.
“We are loading up branches that may be useful in some way, whether they be for building, crafts, arts, baskets and fences,” Soline said. “We want to keep as much of that wood in Berkeley.”